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“We tend to think that what we do when we come before God is to present only those parts of ourselves that we feel relatively comfortable with. And, if we think God doesn’t know those other parts, we are horribly misinformed.” Joe & Suzanne Stabile

I read this quote on fb about 2 weeks ago and its just rambled around in my head,.  Poking me.

 

In John 3 we read some of the most famous and favourited verses of the bible… but as we read on we read some of the most uncomfortable verses.

 

 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. John 3

 

The AMP reads it like this:  the Light has come into the world, and people loved the [c]darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20 For every wrongdoer hates the Light, and does not come to the Light [but shrinks from it] for fear that his [sinful, worthless] activities will be exposed and condemned. 21 But whoever practices truth [and does what is right—morally, ethically, spiritually] comes to the Light, so that his works may be plainly shown to be what they are—accomplished in God [divinely prompted, done with God’s help, in dependence on Him].”

 

Now before we point fingers out to the world… lets look in the mirror.  Speck meet log.

 

We love the darkness.  We often hide parts of ourselves.  From others.  From ourselves.  From God.

 

It can be scary thinking that God sees all and knows all.  He sees all the ugly parts of me.  The parts I don’t want to even acknowledge.

 

But the gentleness and the lovingness of God means that he isn’t just after our behaviour, He is after our hearts.

 

In the last 2 verses of Psalm 139 David prayed, “Search me, God, and know my heart.  Test me, and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offenseive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” V 23-24

 

Now that is an incredible prayer to pray.  Risky.  Because God answers prayer.  That prayer is an invitation for God to go into all those places we hide, to strip away all our masks and to point out all our flaws – not to shame us, not to break us, not to push us away, but to draw us closer and to restore us and to heal us and to transform us.

 

The prayer really has 3 parts.

Search my heart.

Know my anxious thoughts.

Uncover my sins.

 

 

And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me,

See if there is any path of pain I’m walking on,
and lead me back to you

 

 

To live in the light we need God to search our hearts.   There is a really common saying “they’ve got a good heart” but the bible says that the heart is deceitful above all things.  Meaning, the heart is a liar.  Without being born again and even to some extent afterwards am I right our heart leads us astray and deceives others and deceives ourselves.  Our worst enemy is often ourselves and the patterns of thoughts and behaviours that are our default settings.

 

It’s a brave person that prays Search my heart.  Test me, know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me.   It gives God permission to point out any sin that’s dwelling within us.

 

When we’ve first become Christians it’s a lot like renovating.  You fix the big obvious things.  We are about to embark on a bathroom renovation and it feels scary.  Not because we’re replacing our bath and vanity, but its what lurks underneath, hidden away that might cause all the drama.   In our early years as Christians we deal with the big things and we see amazing transformation but then as we walk on with Jesus its more about the little things.  You know what though,  those little things are often the big things.  One little leak in our bathroom…. Yeah who knows what we’ll find!  The little things can have huge consequnces.

It’s our attitudes.  Its our pride.  Its our selfishness. Its our laziness.

Last year a personality test called the Enneagram blew up all over social media.  Being the ENFP otter sanguine I am I immediately jumped on board.  Any ennagram fans here?  So, long story short I’m a 3.  3’s are the performers or the achievers.  We are awesome and we know it.

There is a life cycle of aomeone that does an ennegram test.

 

  1. confusion – the enneawaht?
  2. wonder – wow, this thing reads my mail!
  3. evangelism – everyone must do this!
  4. complexity – the more I read about this thing the more I realize I don’t know about myself
  5. suffering – oh no, this thing reads my mail!
  6. growth – the enneagram helps me see my blindspots and who I really am

 

 

I totally went through this life cycle.  I saw the ennegram everywhere and was like do I need to do another personality test…?  The answer for me will always be yes.  They’re so much fun!   I quickly zoomed into the wonder/evangelism phase as well as the oh my goodness the memes are sooo good!  But then as I began to read more and listen to podcasts I discovered that there were places of me that were uncomfortable and hidden in plain sight.  The enneagram aptly calls them the shadow side.

 

The enneagram was the tool God used to search my heart.  To know my anxious thoughts, to show me the offensive places, the places God saw already.   For you it might be though a mentoring relationship – when you give someone permission to speak into your life and to be honest with you about you.  Or a book you read, or something from the Bible that jumps out and slaps you in the face.  It might come as you get connected in a connect group or during worship, or during the real life every day circumstances of your life that God uses to reveal the shadow side and call us into the light.

 

When we let God into those places He transforms us.   When we let the light of God shine into those dark places of our lives He makes us more like Jesus.   He makes us mature and secure.

 

In a way we’re all like Lazarus – called out the darkness of the tomb into a whole new life, but some of us choose to walk around in our graveclothes still.

 

Im not saying we have to be perfect for our light to shine – quite the opposite.   As we live authentic lives, covered in grace, it tells an amazing story about how real and loving and good God is.  Our scars tell a story about the one who right now in heaven has scars on his hands because he died on the cross to set us free and bring us near to God.

 

Davids prayer Search me, test me, know me is challenging.  Lets be people who choose the light instead of the darkness.  Choosing the light trusts that God is good and that God knows best for my life and best for my journey and best for my wholeness.

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The promise of God is that He finishes what He starts.

I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return]. Philippians 1:6 AMP

There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears. Philippians 1:6 MSG

I pray with great faith for you, because I’m fully convinced that the One who began this glorious work in you will faithfully continue the process of maturing you and will put his finishing touches to it until the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ! Philippians 1:6 TPT

God is at work to mature us, to transform us and to make us into the men and women of God He created us to be.  We are designed on purpose, with a purpose.

Today you can be confident that God sees you and that He loves you.  He has great plans and purposes for your life and He is fully committed to seeing His success through your life.

 

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One person’s obedience and surrender to a process and to healing will ALWAYS unlock someone else’s heart for healing, surrender and worship. We are here on this earth for a greater purpose—one that is watched over and cared for by God who is like a gardener. He prunes and cuts away and it hurts. But He fights over you, dances over you and He uses lyric and melody and surrender to do it through. Your encounter unlocks an encounter for someone else. Keep singing. Keep writing. Don’t flee in heartache—run to Him. Don’t fight against the pain—feel it and take it to your comforter and let Him comfort and heal you deep down. If we live in the shallow end we’ll never experience the fullness of what the deep unlocks. —Kari Jobe

Im weird.  I like weird things.  I like things weirdly.  Take for example, I like to eat my M&Ms by colour order, I don’t like peas and I dont like my food to touch on a plate.

 

I’m slightly obsessed with Lost, the tv show, and Star Wars and often know weird random facts about them that no one else may really care about like the fact that an estimated that 2.2 million full-time employees missed work to attend the film, resulting in a US$293 million loss of productivity.  I’m also slightly obsessed about missing people and cold cases at the moment and listen to a couple of podcasts about them – I think its the Lost thing but in real life.

 

I’m also 4 books away from the goal I set myself to read this year.   Weird and super geeky I know.  Anyway recently I read a book about art restoration, as you do, and it got me wandering off on a tangent thinking about how it applies to our identity as God’s masterpiece and the process we are on to become more like Jesus.

 

Art Restoration is a very specialized business.  Do it the wrong way and you end up with this…. Phrases such as “the worst restoration in history” and “a crayon sketch of a very hairy monkey in an ill-fitting tunic” were used to describe her attempt to repair the 1930 artwork – a depiction of Christ with a crown of thorns….

art restoration bad

 

Do it right and you can enhance the original beauty and glory of the artwork.

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be-strong-courageous

Christine Caine posted on fb recently “I encourage you today to embrace the change necessary in order to grow into the success that God has prepared for you. God calls us to step up and into His promises and purposes, and He will give you the grace to run your race.” ~ Christine Caine

We have to be aware of our weaknesses and be prepared to grow and deal with our stuff.  We all have stuff.  We all have flaws.   We waste an enormous amount of energy trying to cover up our sins, our hurts, our hang-ups, and our defects. If we spent as much time being honest about what’s not right in our life as we do covering it up, we’d have a lot more energy for what is right in our life.

The thing about weaknesses is that we often on our strengths but leave ourselves vulnerable to attack, or to falling over in that area.  During WW2 Singapore was a very powerful military base.  With a seemingly impenetrable jungle behind it they focused all their defences towards the sea.  However the city was conquered, not by sea but by the Japanese who cut a single track bicycle track through the jungle.

The battle for sin starts in our mind, not in our behaviour. The way we think determines the way we feel, and the way we feel determines the way we act. If we want to change the way we act, we start by changing the way you think and feel by aligning it to the Word of God.

 

This is the beauty of the call of God, that he chooses to do extraordinary things with ordinary people, with broken people, with messy people.  He uses rescued people to rescue people.  That takes courage in itself, to be open to God.  We know He sees all and knows all but how many of us like to pretend that that there are places in our heart that He cannot see?  Or is that just me? We have a responsibility to not stay the same, to not hide from ourselves but to be honest and to let God into those places.

 

 

God uses change to change us. He doesn’t use it to destroy us or to distract us, but to coax us to the next level of character, experience, compassion and destiny!   God uses change to transform us so we can live a best life and have relationshi8ps that flourish and can make the most of the opportunities that come our way.

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pray____by_mehmeturgut

“It is not so true that “prayer changes things” as that prayer changes me and then I change things.” (Oswald Chambers)

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“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”

I believe that God is good all the time.

He is not the author of suffering and pain.

But life involves life and pain and problems and stretching.

This is normal, natural.

We live in a fallen world and are targets to a ruthless enemy.

But in that, even in that, God is good and is always at work to restore and bring goodness out of the difficult seasons.

He has a solution for every problem (but, how many times do we not like His suggested solutions!)

He does not abandon us to the darkness but walks with us, in every moment.

What the enemy means for our destruction, God uses for our growth.

If you are walking through a difficult season here are 3 things to encourage you:

1. Isaiah 43:2 – When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

This is good news for us.  When we walk through trial, God is with us.  When we walk through darkness, God is with us.  When we walk through pain, God is with us.  When we walk through flood, God is with us.  When we walk through fire, God is with us.

His presence protects us so we are not overwhelmed or scorched.

But yes, we have to walk through those waters and the fire.

2.  Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

This is good news and good truth.  This is real truth.  Often when in the dark spaces of our life we can think that some of the Word of God is just nice cliche or lovely platitudes, but it is real truth.  You can stake your life on it.  You can count on it.

 

3.  Psalm 121 – I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.  The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

Sometimes in the dark seasons we have to CHOOSE to look up and see the stars.  We have to CHOOSE to have faith.  We have to CHOOSE to trust God and believe His promises.

 

I can tell you from experience that I isnt easy.  But worth it.

 

How do you see the stars in the dark times?

 

 

 

 

Dry spells are the instrument of God, for your good. Yes, it is true in such times, your five senses have been deprived and all outward progress of outward piety ends. Know this; In such times you are either going to leave off prayer and perhaps even a large part of your Christian walk, or you will be drive to a comfort which has nothing to do with the outward sense.” Molinos from 100 Days In The Secret Place (by Gene Edwards)

Currently in New Zealand we are experiencing one of our hottest summers in record.  Last week, as we flew over Blenheim, the contrast of the lush greenness of the well kept vineyards and the barren dryness of the surrounding hills was extreme. They need rain.

The earth is not the only place where things can be dry.  We experience seasons where we struggle, where we falter, where we doubt, where we feel dry.

In these dry places we learn to persevere and to draw near to God regardless of how we feel and what we sense. In this time God is still at work, even more so I would think, as He develops strength of character and hunger for Him. We learn to pray in new ways, to seek after God and to in that action to hold onto our faith and beliefs. We may even find our beliefs and faith changing as things that are built on works and feelings and comfortability fall away. We may discover that we do know in our deepest parts that God does love me and knows me and forgives me – despite all our failings and unworthiness.

In a dry spell the greatest watering and growth can occur.

Even if we know nothing else we can have hope in WHO God Is.   God is God, the God of mercy and compassion, love and peace, grace and hope, Jehovah our Provider, Jehovah our Healer, Jehovah our Breakthrough.  He is the same today, yesterday and will be tomorrow. He will never leave or depart us, never abandon us. Our names are written on the palm of his hand, and there are nail scars to reinforce the point.

On the Cross Jesus said I THIRST.  The maker of heaven and earth, the Lord of Lords, the one who gives living water so we will never thirst again, thirsted.

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Even Now

Martha says an interesting thing to Jesus when he arrives after her brothers death : ‘Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, ‘if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.’

Martha “even now you can do impossible things” – that phrase even now speaks with faith despite circumstances. Even now despite what is going on, Jesus you can move and work and redeem and rescue.

Even now God can heal your family relationships

Even now God can change your life

Even now God can provide

Even now God can heal

Even now God can set you free from fear, insecurity, shame, doubt

Jesus can bring life to hopeless situations we’ve given up on as dead

Jesus resurrects people that feel dead on the inside and makes them alive with second chances

Jesus can resurrect dreams that have been killed by discouragement and disappointment

Jesus can speak life into your failing relationship and bring hope where it is hopeless

Nothing is impossible for God – No one is impossible for God. Your husband is not impossible for God. Your wife is not impossible for God. Your parents are not impossible for God. Your kids are not impossible for God.

God’s delays are not His denials – that IS that Lazarus was in was such an important part of “his life” and what God was doing.

 

What is your even now moment?

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